Posted by: oikosasa | April 11, 2013

Taking metacommunity models to the empirical world

Will the use of “real” connectivity between communities improve metacommunity models? Read more in C.Moritz and colleague’s Early View paper: “Disentangling the role of connectivity, environmental filtering, and spatial structure on metacommunity dynamics”. Here’s their summary of the paper:

For decades, the environment has been proven to structure biodiversity. However, dispersal of organisms is also  a process that helps structuring and maintaining biodiversity in local communities. The problem is that  connectivity between communities (the fact that these communities are linked, resulting from the dispersal  process) is often assessed using a more or less simple function of geographic distance. Theoretical metacommunity models can incorporate both environmental and dispersal processes, but empirical  studies considering real connectivity instead of a function of geographic distance are more scarce. In our work,  we have included real connectivity measures to analyse polychaete community structure in the Gulf of Lions (NW  Mediterranean Sea) at different spatial scales. Our results are not trivial…and equivalent methods should be  applied to other ecosystems (terrestrial or marine) to continue quantifying the importance of dispersal on  biodiversity, either for particular species of interest or for entire communities.

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